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How do I become an air traffic controller?
In the United States most air traffic control specialists (ATCSs) are employed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Another segment of the workforce are military ATCSs. Additionally, ATCSs may work for private companies which have contracts with the FAA or state/county/local governments to operate air traffic control towers at smaller general aviation airports. To become employed by the FAA you must pass a series of tests which include a physical. The FAA will be hiring up to 1250 controllers each year for the next several years. More information is available on the News & Information page. For answers to specific questions, or for further information on becoming an air traffic controller contact the Education & Career Development Program Manager
FAA ATC Recruitment Websites
There is lots of information out there for those seeking to become Air Traffic Control Specialists (ATCS) with the FAA. Much of it can be found through the internet. Here are some sites for several specific situations:
ATC Qualification Information
For a list of general qualifications to become an ATCS, consult this website: ATC Qualifications
Document EMP-1.20 states that you may enter either the Enroute or Terminal options after the age of 31 if you had previously held that position; otherwise, you must be hired before your 31st birthday. For more information about maximum entry and retention ages for the ATCS position, consult this website: Maximum Entry Age (FAA employees only)
For those applicants who turn age 31 after being officially notified to begin the pre-employment process for an ATCS position, the FAA can complete the hiring process despite the applicant being over age 31. (NOTE: Minneapolis Community & Technical College Air Traffic Control Training Program graduates must also have graduated prior to age thirty-one). More information about Policy Bulletin #12, the in-process rule for ATCS positions, can be found on this website: Policy Bulletin #12 (FAA employees only)
Veteran's Readjustment Appointment (VRA)
For veterans wishing to hire on with the FAA as an ATCS, information is available on this website: VRA employment to ATC
DOD Civilian Controllers
Air traffic control specialists currently working in DOD air traffic control facilities may apply for FAA ATCS positions provided their initial DOD civilian appointment was made prior to age 31. For more information, consult this website: DOD employees
Retired Military Air Traffic Controllers
The FAA has established a program for hiring certain retired military controllers; in these cases, the maximum entry age has been changed. If you are a retired military controller wishing to hire on with the FAA as an ATCS, consult this website: Retired Military ATC
General FAA Hiring Information
Flight Service Hiring
At this time, hiring is limited for the Flight Service Option. Alaska has an ongoing training program; for updates consult the general hiring websites.
FAA Academy Information
For information on classes provided by the FAA Academy, see: http://www.atctraining.faa.gov/
Please feel free to copy this page and distribute to anyone you meet who might need this information. You can also distribute this info sheet at Career and Job Fairs, High School Career Days, etc. Thanks for your help in recruiting the next generation of Air Traffic Controllers!
Announcing the ATO Succession Planning Program for Aspiring Air Traffic Managers (ATMs):
Who Should Apply? If you are a current (or former) middle manager or higher and you are interested in applying for Air Traffic Manager [AT-2152, MSS-4] positions at ATC level 10-12/ARTCC facilities, you're invited to apply for this two-year leadership development program designed to help you further develop the competencies required for success as an ATM at Level 10-12 facilities.
For details on eligibility and who can apply, click here to check out the pool-specific prerequisites (myatocareer.faa.gov/successionplanning).
The application form will be posted on Monday (June 2nd). No nomination is required. The program application DEADLINE is 11:59 PM Tuesday JULY 8.
How Can this Program Help You? Participation in this ATO-wide program is a great opportunity for managers to take advantage of centrally funded development dollars, assessments, and coaching to prepare yourself for career progression to higher level Air Traffic Management. This leadership program is for current ATO managers who aspire to apply to ATM Level 10-12 positions.
Benefits: Program participation showcases your interest and desire to move into the target position and provides:
- Accelerated, individualized development opportunities, aligned to competencies specific to the ATM role
- Confidential, in-depth assessments that provide feedback on your strengths and development areas
- Guidance from a development advisor and your manager
- Networking and enhanced visibility to senior leaders
- Centralized funding for approved, targeted coaching or external development
Don't miss this great opportunity! No nomination is required but entry into the program is competitive. You must submit an application package for consideration to become a program participant.
For more information on pools, processes, FAQ's and resources, and application instructions and forms, visit the program web site at: https://employees.faa.gov/go/spp. and the Succession and Career Planning Tool at: MyATOCareer.faa.gov/successionplanning.
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